Remarks at Incheon International Airport

Daniel R. Russel
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Incheon, South Korea
September 5, 2013

Thank you very much for coming. I'm so delighted to be back in South Korea. This is a second home for me. I lived with my family in Korea for three years as a Foreign Service Officer, and I've been back many times. I have accompanied President Obama each time he visited Korea. I came with former Secretary Clinton. More recently I came both with Secretary Kerry, but also attended the inauguration of President Park in February with Mr. Donilon, representing the President.

But what’s special to me about this visit to Korea is that it's my first visit here as the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific. Seoul is the very first stop on my very first trip to Asia as the Assistant Secretary, and that's not an accident. I'm looking forward to holding consultations with a number of counterparts in the ROK government, and I appreciate the time that they are taking to sit down with me. We will be able to talk about a range of bilateral issues, talk about North Korea of course, talk about some of the regional issues. But we’ll also discuss some of the global issues that are right now so important, which of course includes the issue of Syria. I’m very appreciative of the strong and clear statements by the Government of Korea condemning the use of chemical weapons and calling for accountability by the Government of Syria.

The visit here also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK alliance, something that we have been celebrating. It is a central pillar of the President’s rebalancing strategy. The U.S.-ROK alliance is in great shape and getting better, and I look forward to the meetings that I will have over the next day or so. I also look forward to having a chance to talk to the press after I've been able to speak to my counterparts in the government. So, with your permission, I'll just leave it at this statement and say thank you very much.